The Legendary and Warner Bros. tentpole is launching simultaneously on HBO Max in the U.S.
Friday’s haul, including $5.1 million in Thursday previews, was the best showing for a 2021 Warners title also opening on the streaming service. Imax theaters turned in $4.2 million, or 24 percent of Friday’s entire gross.
Dune was a high-profile player on the fall film festival circuit and sits at 83 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it an A- Cinemascore. The majority of ticket buyers were between the ages of 18 and 35. It also skewed heavily male, or 62 percent.
Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi classic features an all-star cast including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Zendaya.
Dune will easily win the weekend box office race, but judging its theatrical performance will be complicated by the fact that it is also available in the home. (WarnerMedia’s pandemic-era hybrid release strategy with HBO Max will cease at the end of the year.)
There are other challenges aside from the HBO Max factor. Younger moviegoers are so far driving the box office recovery, yet they aren’t the demo who grew up on the Dune books. And Dune‘s lengthy running time of 155 minutes will reduce the number of showtimes in cinemas. (The recent James Bond film No Time to Die is longer, at 163 minutes.)
Overseas, Dune began rolling out earlier this month, earning an impressive $130 million-plus to date from select markets. On Friday, it opened to $6 million in China, where Legendary and partner Wanda have sole distribution duties. It earned another $9.7 million on Saturday for a two-day total of $15.7 million. (A new covid-19 breakout is prompting full or partial cinema closures across at least eight provinces.)
Legendary produced Dune, which cost roughly $165 million to make before marketing. The company also financed most of the film, with Warner Bros. and its partners putting up the rest. The weekend’s other new nationwide release is Disney and 20th Century’s animated family film Ron’s Gone Wrong, which earned roughly $2.3 million on Friday from 3,560 theaters for a muted debut in the $7 million range. The movie is looking at a fifth-place finish.
Opening at the specialty box office is Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which Searchlight rolls out in 52 locations.